After the success of his first novel Losing My Religion, author Vishwas Mudagal is ready with his second, The Last Avatar – Age of Kalki. But this time, he is aiming higher. The upcoming sci-fi novel is the first instalment of a planned three-part trilogy under Age of Kalki.
Ahead of the book’s launch on December 10, the 37-year-old author, who is also an entrepreneur, angel investor and a motivational speaker, talks about basing science fiction in mythology, why more engineers are turning to writing and why Indian readers do not like to read Indian authors.
The Last Avatar – Age of Kalki looks like a superhero novel rooted in Indian mythology. How difficult was it to base a story in two such starkly different genres?
It has been a monumental task. I was fed up with Hollywood superheroes. There is such a dearth of Indian superheroes that are deep-rooted in our mythology and values. We have great Hollywood superheroes but we don’t have such depth and quality in our own stories. So I decided to do something about it. I started to think how I can bring the prophesy of Kalki alive in today’s time. The book is science fiction but written from a mythological angle. It was very challenging but incredibly amazing too. I enjoyed the process of creating Kalki all the more because nobody else has done it till now.
Of several thousand Indian mythological characters, why did you choose Kalki?
Kalki is an avatar of Vishnu. As the all powerful and merciless destroyer of evil, he is very fascinating. He has to destroy everything first to rebuild it in a better way. He comes to end the dark ages. He is as mortal as anyone of us but what makes him different is his grit, valour and the choices he makes. I felt that Kalki could be the right superhero for the global audience.
How do you research for your characters?
I hit upon the idea in December 2010. Since then it has been eight years of research, writing and rewriting. I looked at all the Indian mythological avatars, the previous avatars of Vishnu, at Kalkipurana, at how people have spoken and written about Kalki before, his popular stories. But all of them mention him as this mythological character from the remote past whereas I had to make him relevant to the present, make him a part of what is happening right now.
What is the Age of Kalki trilogy about?
It is set in World War III, at a time when the Indian democracy is no more, our Parliament is destroyed, and the Prime Minister, cabinet members killed, leaving the country without leadership. An emergency is declared and there is chaos and destruction all over. Millions of dying people need someone to help them. In such a situation, Kalki rises. Now whether he is able to save others or not is the journey.
Do you already have stories for the other two instalments?
I have almost written the second book as well. I am halfway through. I wanted to write a little bit more, come back and re-do the characters.
After campus romances, Indian fiction space is suddenly flooded with mythological stories. What do you think is the reason behind this renaissance?
As a nation, we are glued to mythology. People are deeply rooted into stories like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. They like to see good triumphing over evil, and derive inspiration from the struggles of mythological characters. The fascination towards this genre has always been there.
Engineers are taking to writing more than ever…
Engineers have an analytical mind. Some of them are creative too. Both the qualities help create powerful, gripping and believable plots. It is not just writing, engineers are getting successful in a lot of other areas too, be it start-ups or sports.
A large section of Indian readers doesn’t like to read Indian authors. They feel Indian writers focus more on playing to the gallery than making a worthwhile contribution to literature.
It has been a challenge but the audience want something simple that can be understood by a large gamut of readers. If you write something complex, it gets difficult for a lot of people to understand. That’s the reason a lot of authors have taken to light writing. As and when English literacy increases and matures in India, people will have the room to write better stories.
You also do motivational talks. Is a self-help book on the cards anytime soon?
Yes, I am hoping to come out with one next. A lot of people have asked me to do a book on my popular series Ask Vishwas, where I help people though honest, to-the-point suggestions to life’s problems.
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